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Conscience-driven investing has wide appeal

By Maxine Shapiro, KERA 90.1 commentator

Dallas, TX – This week begins and ends with two important environmentally friendly days. Monday was Earth Day, and Friday celebrates the 130th anniversary of Arbor Day. Did you know that there are socially responsible mutual funds you can invest in? I'm Maxine Shapiro with KERA Marketplace Middays.

Socially Responsible Investing. And yes, there's even an acronym for it. SRI began blossoming about 20 years ago. Its surge can definitely be attributed to the origin of Earth Day. Today, over $2 trillion of investments are made by using at least one social investment strategy, according to

So what is Socially Responsible Investing? "SRI considers both the investor's financial needs and an investment's impact on society." Thank you,, for that simple but comprehensive definition. Socially responsible mutual funds do not invest in companies that pollute. They do not invest in defense, liquor, tobacco, or gambling companies. High on the list of criteria is how a company treats its employees. I could comment on Enron now, but I won't. So it's not just an environmental thing. There are over 200 socially responsible mutual funds to choose from. We all have different views and passions, and it's good to know that there are ways to invest with our conscience.

There are a small but growing number of religious-based mutual funds, something I didn't know until I watched CNBC this morning. Since these religious-based mutual funds do not accept abortion, they do not invest in pharmaceutical companies that produce any sort of birth control or abortion drug, or invest in any store that sells the products. Now a pharmaceutical company might be considered an SRI as they promote healing and well-being, and if I may add, while charging too much.

Insurance companies that pay for birth control or abortion would not be part of a religious-based fund. While ExxonMobil would never be part of a socially responsible fund, religious ones don't make pollution a priority. Hope this info helped, but just a warning: both types of funds have historically under-performed other funds. For KERA Marketplace Middays, I'm Maxine Shapiro.

Marketplace Midday Reports air on KERA 90.1 Monday - Friday at 1:04 P.M.